THE woman who found missing Kevin McGeever wandering a country road has revealed she was puzzled by the fact he was carrying a "very new" mobile phone.
The former tycoon was looking gaunt and dishevelled when he told Catherine Vallely and her friend Pat Rehill that he had been kidnapped and held captive for eight months.
But when she used his phone to give directions to the remote road near Ballinamore, Co Leitrim, to one of his friends, the friend initially didn't seem interested.
Mr McGeever (68) has since been arrested on suspicion on wasting garda time.
He was released without charge from Gort garda station, Co Galway, last Friday night and a file is being prepared for the DPP.
Ms Vallely said her first impression was that Mr McGeever – with long hair and beard, and long fingernails, and only dark socks on his feet – was homeless.
But she added that his mobile phone appeared to be "very new".
She recalled giving directions over the phone to his friend in Kinnegad to come to Carrick-on-Shannon to collect Mr McGeever.
But she said it was strange that the friend at first didn't seem very interested in collecting him.
The friend's assistance wasn't required, however, after Mr McGeever decided to go to Ballinamore garda station instead.
Ms Vallely said that, at first, Mr McGeever did not want to go to the station – although he didn't object strenuously to the suggestion.
"The photos of him that were taken as he left the garda station at Gort show he has put on weight," she recalled yesterday.
"His eyes are different now; they appeared much bigger when we met him that night at the end of January. They were enormous, like two dark lakes in his head, and underlined his gauntness. He was really thin and he kept pulling at his hair.
"He really looked like a homeless man. But only now am I thinking there was no smell from his clothes, no musty smell, no 'didn't wash myself' smell'."
Ms Vallely (64) also recalled how Mr McGeever said at the garda station that he hadn't eaten for some time.
She offered to buy some chips, and while he was waiting for them to arrive he drank tea and ate three biscuits.
She said he ate the biscuits normally and didn't appear to be ravenous.
Mr McGeever was arrested last week and before he was released he told gardai that he had concocted the story of his kidnapping because he was under pressure from investors who wanted their money back.
He told gardai he stayed in an isolated house in the west of Ireland – instead of the container where originally he claimed he had been held captive – and deliberately lost weight and became dishevelled in a bid to back up his story.
Mr McGeever is wanted in Dubai for alleged property fraud and there are a number of legal cases pending against him in the Dublin High Court.